Rebels disappointed with peace talks

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THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is disappointed with the progress of its on-going peace talks with the government because of the long delay in the signing of the comprehensive compact agreement.

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“The MILF is frustrated about what is happening to the peace talks now and that the MILF is very much concerned about what is going on. In other words we are no happy and many of our leaders on the ground are slowly losing their trust and hope on the resolution of the Bangsamoro issue,” MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar on Friday said, stressing that the lost of trust and confidence is “not a very good situation.”

Their frustration, Jaafar said, stemmed from the government’s alleged dilly-dallying on the signing of the comprehensive compact agreement that some of their members viewed as a deliberate move to scuttle the peace negotiation.

“The signing of the comprehensive compact agreement had been continuously delayed and the feeling of some of us is that the government is deliberately delaying the signing of the peace talks,” he added.

He pointed out that during the last meeting of the MILF and the Government of the
Philippines (GPH) peace pa­nels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, both sides have agreed to resume the peace talks immediately after the elections, but it did not happen.

Adding to their frustration, Jaafar further said, was the statement of GPH peace panel Chairman Miriam Cornel-Ferrer in a radio interview advising the MILF to be patient and to remain cool under the present situation.

“The Bangsamoro people have been waiting for than 30 years . . . for the peaceful settlement of the issue, for the past 37 years if we start the counting from 1975, and then the chairman is still advising us to remain [calm]. What is this,” he stressed.

“Why should the Bangsamoro wait for another 10 years, 20 years to address the Bangsamoro issue. I don’t think the situation is very good,” he further said.
The GPH-MILF last meeting took place in March.

MILF chief negotiator Mo­­­hagher Iqbal earlier disclosed that among those discussed during the meeting were the issue on “power sharing, wealth sharing and normalization [of the Mindanao situation],” which are all part of the annexes of the initial framework agreement which the two sides signed in Malacañang in October last year.

According to Iqbal, they have already agreed on more than half of the provision of the framework agreement that include the transitional provision and other modalities.

He said that they did not set a time limit to their discussions but stressed the urgency of resolving the remaining annexes.

Iqbal explained that they have practically settled with the draft of the wealth sharing issue while there were still some points to be resolved on the power sharing aspect.

“Practically, we are settled on wealth sharing but we have not signed it yet. Subject for review,” he further said but refused to give details of the percentage that each side will get.

The GPH and MILF panels signed on February 27 in Kuala Lumpur the first of our four annexes to the framework agreement.

Signed was the annex on transitional arrangements an mo­dalities, which details the road map towards the creation of the Bangsamoro region.

They also signed the terms of reference for the Independent Commission Policing (ICP), which will submit recommendations to the peace panels on the appropriate form, structures and relationships of the police force for the Bangsamoro.

The initial framework agreement was signed in Malacañang on October 24, 2012 in the presence of President Aquino and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and a powerhouse delegation that include the prime minister of Malaysia and the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic

Asked on the status of the agreement on wealth sharing, Jaafar refused to answer, saying that it would be best to ask the GPH peace panel about the matter.

Jaafar warned that many of their commanders were getting frustrated of the long wait but stressed that they still believe on a peaceful solution of the problem and on the sincerity of President Aquino to resolve the issue.

“We still believe in the seriousness of President Aquino in solving the issue but he should better check and that his decision should prevail so that there will be peaceful solution to the Bangsamoro issue because you know, everybody knows, that the Bangsamor issue is the root cause of the [problem],” Jaafar further said.

William B. Depasupil

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